Saskatchewan. The government is seeking to give municipalities and park authorities discretion to allow alcohol consumption in public parks.
“Across the country, (some) provinces allow municipalities to allow alcohol in parks,” said Jim Reiter, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). “Under parameters that cities choose to follow to be able to keep it safe.”
The amendment would only affect municipal parks, with no change in rules for provincial parks.
The City of Saskatoon already passed a motion last winter asking the province to consider changing the legislation.
“We think municipalities are in the best position to determine if it’s safe, if they have adequate security,” Reiter said.
The proposed amendment is currently in first reading, and if passed unanimously in the House this week, it could be in effect by next summer.
“It’s a relatively minor amendment,” Reiter explained. “It is not mandatory for a municipality. Those who would like to do so can certainly do so. Those who don’t can stay with the status quo.
Some park users, such as Calvin Serelo, support the proposed change.
“Oh yeah, that would be pretty cool,” he said. “It would be pretty cool to sit here and have a beer and watch the water and the wildlife. That would be pretty cool.
While others, like Dale Lakeman, worry about the potential consequences of the change.
“And this public place, you should have some decorum, right? It should be removed,” he explained.
“You can’t be wild like you’re in your living room or at home watching a football game.”
For the amendment to pass, the government will need the support of the opposition.
Support that seems unlikely according to NDP MP for Regina Douglas Park, Nicole Sarauer.
“If the government wanted to do this, they should have done it sooner,” she said. “Saskatoon is one municipality among many municipalities in this province. We think it’s important to have that discussion and that consultation.
In his comments, Sarauer referenced other discussions regarding alcohol in public parks in major centers like Toronto. She argued that the government should ensure that this change is really wanted by the municipalities.
“We want to make sure municipalities want that capability,” she said. “Let other organizations support municipalities having this capability rather than just downloading it onto municipalities without having this consultation.”
If the amendment does not pass during the last week of the spring session, the government is prepared to reintroduce the amendment for passage this fall.